Tuesday, April 28, 2009

PB&J Cupcakes

Just returned from a 10-day road trip to Palm Springs, San Diego and LA. Lots of eating, not so much cooking, I’m afraid. But I did have the chance to make something new last Saturday. I was visiting my brother, another avid foodie that loves to eat and cook. I always enjoy visiting him (and his family), especially since they had their kitchen remodeled and expanded. It is a joy to work in.

We had a dinner to go to at some friends. In fact, it was their “big reveal” of their new kitchen. A mixture of adults and kids would be present and my brother and I could not agree on what to make. In fact, we kinda fought about it. We thought about having a challenge, both making what we wanted and seeing how the crowd reacts, but my sister-in-law had a sneaking suspicion that he might lobby for his treat behind my back. He’s very competitive, that brother of mine. So I said he could make the adult dessert and I would handle the ones for the munchkins.

I wanted to do cupcakes and decided to base them on the old-fashioned pb&j sandwich. My brother scrunched up his nose, my sister-in-law arched an eyebrow, but both my niece (14) and my nephew (11 today!) were enthusiastic about the idea, so I ran with it.

Much like my yen for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which inspired this cupcake, I wanted to think outside the box a bit and make them delicious but kid friendly. I pulled an old trick out of my hat, cooking the cupcakes in ice cream cones. No messy papers to deal with, plus there is the added bonus of eating the crunchy cone. I used a basic white cake mix, nothing fancy and filled them to their shoulder (photo 1).

But as you can see from photo 2, that’s a bit much. There was an overflow on each cone, making a bit of a mess. It was easy to cut off and didn’t really detract from the looks or taste, but was a waste of batter, nonetheless.

Once the cupcakes were cooked and cooled, I lined them up like little soldiers and filled their bellies with grape jelly. I just put some jam in a Ziploc with a metal tip and poked it into the cupcake and squirted. You could take an apple corer or veggie peeler and core out a small space and dot it with jelly from a teaspoon if you don’t have a pastry tip to work.

Then I whipped up the same peanut butter frosting from my chocolate/peanut butter cupcakes and piped it on with a Ziploc and no tip. I tried scooping the frosting on with an ice cream scoop, but it didn’t look very good. I think if I had let the frosting chill in the refrigerator it might have set up enough to do this, which would really look like an ice cream cone. Maybe next time…..

I have to say that the cupcakes were a big hit. Connor B (our hosts’ son) ate three, making him my official hero and validating my decision to make the cupcakes. My brother’s dessert? Crème fraiche cupcakes with a chocolate truffle frosting. No one ate three – but they were almost all gone by the time we left the party.

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